Oman trip will have double impact

Ali Al Habsi
Ali Al Habsi
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ROBERTO Martinez insists Wigan Athletic will benefit both on and off the field from their week-long trip to Oman.

The Latics chief spoke to the Observer before boarding the coach for Manchester Airport and then on to Oman, primarily for seven days of warm-weather training at a top-class training facility.

But the trip will also give Latics the perfect opportunity to strengthen their ties in a country that is already full of Latics fanatics since the signing of Ali Al Habsi – a national hero in his homeland.

“I’ve always said that there’s never a good or bad time to have a weekend off in the fixture list,” Martinez told the Observer this morning (Tuesday).

“What is important is that you use it to your advantage, and going away to Oman will be a very good experience for the whole squad.

“We will be enjoying a great training facility in warm weather which we need to take advantage of.

“But, on top of that, it will also allow us to help sell our football club to a developing market.

“Wigan Athletic are a very well-followed football club over in Oman, and it’s great to be able to repay a little bit of that support.

“Sometimes we just don’t realise how big a figure Ali is in his home country and in Asia in general, and it will be nice for us to see that at first hand and also extend the hand of friendship between our players and the football fans of Oman.

“It will be great to get out of Wigan for a week and show off our brand and reinforce the following we have overseas.

“It is a very unique opportunity for the football club and something I feel we should be doing a lot more of.”

The squad was in good spirits as it departed Christopher Park, following three points at Bolton that Martinez feels can kickstart their season.

“The performance was the most pleasing aspect, because sometimes you get results and you don’t know how they came about and that makes it hard to try and replicate them,” he added.

“We are still in a position that we never wanted to be in, but we have a group of players who are desperate to perform in the manner we did on Saturday on a regular basis.

“And that is our challenge for the rest of the season. We are still playing catch-up – but we have shown the way forward.”